I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

CrossFit. Bodybuilding. Marathon running. Zumba. Yoga. Orange Theory Fitness. Local team sports. These are just the tip of the iceberg representing some of the hottest fitness trends that have emerged in recent years.

The world of fitness is an infinite landscape with endless possibilities of combinations of activities to choose from. So, how do you figure out which magical combination will work best for you and your goals?

The temperatures are rising as we draw closer to spring after a long winter and I know many of you will want to begin heating up your fitness program. Depending on how hot your motivation is (on a scale of 1 to 10) and how hot you’d like your body to be, here are three sample situations to help you pinpoint what kind of workout program it is going to take to achieve the results you’re looking for.


man in black t-shirt and black shorts doing push up

man doing push up

Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

our goal: to improve/maintain basic health markers, look decent naked and feel the benefits of exercise.

What to do: anything you enjoy. Just do something, and make it consistent.

How often: 30- to 60-minute sessions three times per week (minimum).

Impact on your diet: minimal change required.

Honesty is the best policy. Don’t pretend you’re a world class athlete, and a 10 out of 10, if you’re really not. In this program, as long as you do something, you’ll probably achieve your goal. The key here is to find activities that you genuinely enjoy. If you hate the gym, don’t go. If you hate yoga, don’t go. Do what you like and start to change your habits. The only rule is that you MUST plan to do something active at least three times per week. Keep in mind that this program will produce the least noticeable/measurable results, but it also requires the least effort to maintain.

WARM MOTIVATION (8-9 out of 10)

Your goal: to burn fat, get toned and look pretty good naked.

What to do: a variety of activities, but with emphasis on weight training.

How often: 45- to 60-minute sessions four to five times per week

Impact on your diet: moderate change required.

If you’re an 8 out of 10, to me, that means that you’re ready to sacrifice some parts of your life in order to reach the goal, and you’re not allergic to hard work. Key focal points for you include working out four to five times per week at high intensity/exertion – primarily in the gym with weights. In order to take it to this level, start researching and educating yourself on what you need to do to reach this goal. This could be through reading books, searching online, talking to friends who already have fitness success or, of course, hiring a professional.

And you’ll need to start paying attention to your diet. Sorry, there’s just no way around that. Now, which diet is best for you is a question for another issue. But you’ll want to start making changes, tracking your diet (I use the free app MyFitnessPal), and seeking professional guidance either through written materials or in person. You will not achieve your goal at this point without dietary changes, PERIOD.

HOT MOTIVATION (10-11 out of 10)

topless man in black shorts carrying black dumbbell

Shirtless man lifting dumbbell

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

Your goal: Whatever it takes to look and feel my best.

What to do: Exclusively weight training with some cardio.

How often: 60-minute sessions (or longer) five to six times per week.

Impact on your diet: Maximum change and discipline required.

If you are truly a 10 or 11 out of 10 and are really ready do whatever it takes to reach your fitness goals, you wont even flinch when the hard-ass trainer barks “it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not; enjoyment is irrelevant.” So don’t necessarily expect to like the program if you fall in this category. You don’t have to love the gym, but you will love the results if you stick with it. Weight training is simply one of the most efficient ways to change your look, fast and completely. So suck it up, princess. We’ll see you in the weight room.

Remember, the difficulty and expectations of your fitness program all depend on your goals. Figure out what you want, and how badly you want it, first; and then crank the heat up on your program accordingly.

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Photo by ABDALLA M on Unsplash

With the majority of us now working at home — and really, entirely living at home — I think it’s safe to say that we’re all dealing with novel mental and physical challenges in this unprecedented time. As if self-care wasn’t hard enough for many people when the world was quasi-normal, climate change, COVID-19, and now Putin's war, have thrown a figurative atom bomb into the wellness equation.

Many of my clients have reported critical disruption to mental health, physical movement, nutrition, stress management, and other vital components of wellbeing. Let’s talk about some ways to stress less, move more, and take better care of ourselves during the virus era:

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Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

February hosts National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I believe it is essential to openly talk about healthy dietary habits and body image expectations. When most people think of eating disorders, the mental image is extreme.

The truth is, problematic eating and exercising habits typically start small and innocuous, often with good intent to be healthier. If these habits go unnoticed or unaddressed, they can manifest into something severe that reduces one’s quality of life and, potentially, becomes life-threatening. These are the truths left out of the exercise program advertisements or the often-well-intended ideals communicated by family, friends, culture, and media. Think about the messages we give one another, verbal or non-verbal. In my line of work, it is relatively common to hear about someone “throwing shade” or “reading” someone by attacking their appearance. It is also common to hear how someone feels or sees themselves because of the small “harmless” comments or snide looks they’ve received from people in their lives. This can be likened to bullying and its disastrous effects. However, our community is known for its pride. It is time our pride shines to illuminate the dark, insidious nature of eating disorders by learning how to identify early warning signs and what we can do on a personal level.

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